“Competing explanations of the origins of the drama cited stray yard clippings, newly planted saplings and unraked leaves.”

If you can read this – real headline, Scenes from Postmodern America – without laughing, you have no soul.

*****************

Professor Paul takes mid-semester sick leave.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) will teach a course [titled “Dystopian Visions”] at the George Washington University during the fall 2017 semester, offering students a rare opportunity to engage with a sitting U.S. senator.

*****************

His scholarly credentials are impeccable!

******************

By the beginning of the 1300s, wealthy people in Southampton, England, were playing lawn games on the manicured expanse of Old Bowling Green — which coincidentally is the name of the Kentucky town where Sen. Paul was beaten beside his lawn mower 700 years later.

Read the whole thing.

‘Oxford Professor Accused of Sexual Misconduct With Swiss Minors’

It’s not the sort of headline any university wants; but Oxford’s baffling refusal to do anything about — even, for a longish time, to say anything about — Professor Tariq Ramadan and his growing legal problems means that this theme, with variations, is playing in newspapers all over the world.

Director of the Middle East Centre Eugene Rogan repeatedly apologised to students for taking ten days to respond to the allegations [and only responding because of student inquiries and complaints], blaming the delay on the fact that the controversy was happening in another country with a different legal system.

Ah yes, another country. Another legal system. Wouldn’t want to weigh in on that. We’re here. They’re there.

Oxford has of course not suspended Ramadan while investigations proceed; that would mean talking about the situation. It’s just basically doing absolutely nothing.

If that seems odd to you, you can add your name to this petition.

“Texas Lawmaker Apologizes for Calling Black District Attorneys ‘F*cking N**gers’ out to get ‘Taco Eaters’”

Great headline.

Headline of the Day

COLLEGE FINDS COMPROMISE TO KEEP
RAPIST ON FOOTBALL TEAM

Headline of the Day.

Suburb Acting, Singing and Dancing Brings ‘Good News!’ to The Shedd

Boys, Baseball, Blasters:

It don’t get no more American than that.

****************

Rand Paul, who was on the field during what “would have been a massacre,” will be UD‘s colleague next semester; he will “teach DC college students about dystopias.”

First Lesson Plan: Imagine a place where you can’t go outside to play ball because nothing stops nuts from getting semi-automatic rifles.

Discuss.

*****************

Hard to keep up.

******************

Australia banned semiautomatic weapons [in 1996], and required everyone to sell those they already owned to the government. There have been no mass shootings in the country since then.

Headline of the Day: From Deadspin.

‘CAL IS FUCKED BECAUSE OF ITS STUPID STADIUM DEAL’

The [University of California – Berkeley] stadium debt is so large that funding may have to come out of the school’s non-athletics budget soon. The school’s largest donors donate to both the school and the athletics programs, and any disruption of sports could decrease the overall amount of donations.

Your Morning Giggle

Great headline. The piece is pretty good too.

“College Student Repremanded…”

Headline of the day.

HUMMER STOLEN FROM BOISE DEALERSHIP FOUND IN BLISS

Longtime readers know that UD often wonders what it’s like for foreigners – even those who speak and read very good English – to come across certain obscure bits of our language. This headline, for instance…

Get ready for Dottie Sandusky once again to go into…

… full-on denial mode.

Umbeshrien! Next thing you know they’ll be saying…

… women shouldn’t be forced to wear black sacks.

The Anatomy of Revolution

CASTRO MOVES INTO THE HAVANA HILTON

BY SANDRA M. CASTILLO

[To mark his death, UD looks at this poem, which reflects on the ironies of history and the disastrous tendencies of revolutions. The title alludes to Castro having in victory taken over and reclaimed the very Batista-esque Hilton Hotel, renaming it Free Havana.]

“History always dresses us for the wrong occasions.”
—Ricardo Pau-Llosa


[Scruffy guerrillas from the hills crowd into the plush Hilton.]

Camera Obscura

[The whole poem will concern itself with obscurity, enigma — the ungraspability of the meaning of historical events and world-historical figures. Part of the problem, it will suggest, is precisely the images through which we try to take in the real world.]

The afternoon lightening his shadow,
Fidel descends from the mountains,
the clean-shaven lawyer turned guerilla,
his eyes focused on infinity,
El Jefe Máximo con sus Barbudos,
rebels with rosary beads


[History once again seems to dress us wrong – anti-clerical revolutionaries retaining their rosary beads.]

on their 600-mile procession across the island
with campesinos on horseback, flatbed trucks, tanks,
a new year’s journey down the oldest roads
towards betrayal.


[Towards betrayal. The revolution will be betrayed. Betray itself.]

Ambient light. Available light

[We always have very partial knowledge. We move by what’s available to us in terms of understanding, but it’s never enough.]

Light inside of them,
nameless isleños line El Malecón to touch Fidel,
already defining himself in black and white.
The dramatic sky moving in for the close-up
that will frame his all-night oratory,
he turns to the crowd,
variations on an enigma,
waving from his pulpit with rehearsed eloquence,
a dove on his shoulder.


[First the references to the rosary, and now, in this stanza, many suggestions that this “faith” (Fidel) revolution is really a slightly transposed religious event – variations on an enigma – with people lining up to touch their deity, who dresses like a priest in black and white. He speaks from a “pulpit” and sports a dove.]

This is a photograph. This is not a sign.

[People stubbornly “symbolize” reality, a process by which a revolutionary leader becomes a god.]

Flash-on camera. Celebrity portraits.

1. Fidel on a balcony across the street
from Grand Central Station,
an American flag above his head,
New York, 1959.

2. Fidel made small by the Lincoln Memorial,
Washington D.C., 1959.

3. Fidel learning to ski,
a minor black ball against a white landscape,
Russia, 1962.

4. Fidel and shotgun,
hunting with Nikita,
Russia, 1962.

Circles of Confusion

Beyond photographs,
Havana is looted and burned.
Women weep at our wailing wall,
El Paredón, where traitors are taken,
and television cameras shoot
the executions, this blood soup,
the paradoxes of our lives,
three years before I am born.

[Random photographic images trace Fidel’s reduction to a celebrity – or, if you like, the process by which the revolution’s strongman becomes a kitschy version of god – while the rest of the religious story plays out as well: The wailing wall where we mourn the loss or theft of the original faith; the devolution of divine passion into inquisition. But it’s a modern inquisition – it’s all photographed and filmed.]

Photoflood


[A photoflood is a lamp that sheds intense illumination in order to produce artificial light for photography and filming. The only form of true lucidity available to us is the artificial brilliance we rig up in order to “flood” the world with yet more images.]

But it is late afternoon,
and a shower of confetti and serpentine
falls from every floor of the Havana Hilton,
where history is a giant piñata,
where at midnight, Fidel will be photographed
eating a ham sandwich.


[This final stanza returns us – after the poem’s meditation on history and revolution – to the narrative immediacy with which the poet began. We are back at the Hilton, and celebrations of the revolution’s victory take place. Of course, given the treacherous and enigmatic nature of such events, they are “serpentine.” The last lines make everything explicit: history is a nightmare of chaos and grief, a great violent shaking up which nonetheless can be seen to smuggle back in precisely the cultural realities that inspired the revolution in the first place. Its final image has Castro – at midnight, the darkest hour – fully reduced by the camera and celebrity culture: he is pictured eating a ham sandwich.]

Castro…

dies.

“THE UNIVERSE COULD BE ONE GIANT ALIEN CLAIMS SCIENTIST”

Whatever.

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